Greetings groovers! There have been way too many good sounds spilling into our ears this week. Nonetheless we’ve rounded up some of the best. Tropical Strength are leading the charge with sun-addled psych pop but we’ve also turned on to new tracks from Backyard, Kirkis, Odette, and Sophisticated Dingo. In preparation for the musical deluge of BIGSOUND there’s new material from Jess Locke and DARTS. Perhaps most exciting of all is a single from the golden rock god himself Robert Plant. His Led Zeppelin days may be a few years past but this may be one of the best solo cuts he’s ever turned out. And did we mention King Gizzard are back? No? Well, read onward!
TROPICAL STRENGTH- LET’S TAKE A WALK (INERTIA)
Following on from to debut track 'Sixtie', Tropical Strength place a melancholy twist on sunshine pop with 'Let's Take A Walk'. ‘60s vibrations abound as chief songwriter Al Foil takes us on a sun-dazed stroll through coastal suburbia. There’s hints of The Beatles, The Small Faces, and The Turtles here as well as, yes undeniably, The Monkees’ ‘Day Dream Believer’.
JESS LOCKE – UNIVERSE (REMOTE CONTROL)
‘Universe’ sees Jess Locke dissects yet another free-falling existential crisis. Her bedroom pop details this emotional collapse with cool detachment. "The song is about trying to connect with reality, " Jess shares in her press release, "with the physical environment and with people, literally and emotionally...In order to have some kind of relationship with the world, we have to remain separate from it.” Compelling as ever and deeply felt.
Jess Locke - Tour Dates
Friday 1 September - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC #
Sunday 3 September - Sounds Of The Suburbs, Sutherland NSW
Wednesday 6 September - Black Bear Lodge, Bigsound, Brisbane QLD
Thursday 7 September - The Foundry, Bigsound, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 9 September - Crowbar, Brisbane QLD **
Monday 11 September - Transit Bar, Canberra ACT **
Wednesday 13 September - Ed Castle, Adelaide SA **
Thursday 14 September - The Gasometer, Melbourne VIC **
Saturday 16 September - Karova Lounge, Ballarat VIC **
Sunday 17 September - Poison City Weekender, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Sunday 17 September - Wrangler Studios, Melbourne (All Ages) VIC **
Saturday 7 October - Punk Rock Pie Night, The Reverence Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Thursday 12th October - Til The Wheels Fall Off, Launceston
Saturday 9 December - Fairgrounds Festival, Berry NSW
ROBERT PLANT - THE MAY QUEEN (NONESUCH/WARNER)
Attending Shakafest last weekend it struck with just how strongly the legacy of Zeppelin still looms large for the current generation of Australian artists. Whether its impressions of the ‘Immigrant Song’ jumping out from the larger-than-life introduction to DZ Deathray’s ‘Shred For Summer’ or in the heavy riffing bombast of Trapdoor, the Zep’s fire still burns hot in the hearts of Aussie rockers. The leading single from Plant’s latest work, ‘The May Queen’ may have a title that throws back to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but sonically it melds some of the stomping acoustic folk of Zeppelin III with the more direct love balladry of late-era albums and Plant’s solo work. As a posturing Golden God, Rob shrieked, moaned, belted and cracked his voice to oblivion on a nightly basis. Here he sounds honeyed and subdued, an elder statesmen of rock music fully in control yet not without a spark of inspiration. He croons abstracted lyrics with boyish charm. Mood setting, it’s an example of Plant’s songcraft at its best.
DARTS – DISTANCE = INFINITY (RICE IS NICE)
Scrappy rockers DARTS are back and ahead of their BIGSOUND return, they’ve dropped not one, but two new singles. The Pixies remain a heavy influence, but blinder ‘Distance = Infinity’ seems to veer towards driving indie rock. It’s a definite stride forward. Suffused with heartache, Angus Ayres emotional vocal tears are delivered with blunt force while Ally Campbell-Smith’s husky outpour servers as a smoother counterpoint. There’s plenty of angular riffs and pummeling rhythms, but most importantly the group tap into a real sense of momentum.
KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD WITH MILD HIGH CLUB - ROLLING STONED (FLIGHTLESS RECORDS)
It turns out that when Gizz said they were releasing a ridiculous number of albums this year they weren’t kidding. The third in their promised series of five, this concept Lp throws back to the wobbly lounge jazz and long-forgotten ‘60s exotica. With LA’s Mild High Club along for the ride it makes a compelling listen. The group have showcased a consistently innovative sound, but whether cuts like ‘Rolling Stoned’ stand up to some of their more adrenaline fuelled rockers we’ll leave to the fans to decide.
KIRKIS – FINALLY (MODED)
When he isn’t moonlighting as a visual artist or touring with Floating Points, Sydney’s Kirkis projects hypnotic visions of avant-pop. Previewing the sound of his forthcoming Lp, ‘Finally’ takes the listener into a twisted soundworld. But for all its sonic adventurism this tense track doesn’t come at the expense of pop sensibility. ‘Finally’ makes for a weird but captivating initial spin and bears repeat listening.
REALITY TELEVISION – BACKYARD (SUNSETPIG RECORDS)
There’s a drifting nostalgia that hangs over the Backyard jangly instrumentals and wistful lyrical vignettes. After his family was displaced from Bosnia in the early ‘90s, frontman Adnan Kadric found refuge in the western sprawl of Melbourne suburbia. It was here that Kadric first discovered seminal influence Paul Kelly. Like Kelly, Backyard spin tales of bleak urban blues while adding polish to a sound evocative of recent contemporaries like Dick Diver. The result is ‘Reality Television’. Bittersweet songwriting with a hint of classicism, it certainly hits an emotional mark.
ODETTE - WATCH ME READ YOU (EMI)
More than a few critics are raving about this latest track from Sydney singer-songwriter Odette. A definite pop ballad infused with revved-up jazz, soul rent vocals gets personal with lyrics arriving via an ever-shifting milieu of melody and spoken word. In conjunction with its stirring visual accompaniment “Watch Me Read You’ can hit home hard. If the hype is to be believed, she’s drawn an every-man-and-his-dog collection of producers and songwriters to work on her team. Sound like she’s gearing up to be the next big pop sensation. regardless of what comes, ‘Watch Me Read You’ provides a formidable introduction.
SOPHISTICATED DINGO - HEAD TALK (INDEPENDENT)
Evocative of early Violent Soho, ‘Head Talk’ is a straight-ahead rocker from Melbourne duo Sophisticated Dingo. The pair conjure plenty of bombast and thrashing riffs, but what really sells 'Head Talk' is the subtle counter-melodies and utterly enormous chorus. Angst and isolation swirl into a caustic howl.